Over 5,500 Citizens Protest Feds’ New Mexico Mustang Roundup Plan

Photo by David Cramer

For Immediate Release

Farmington, NM (November 28, 2012) . . . Over 5,500 citizens have written to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in opposition to its plan to roundup and remove as many as 323 wild horses their homes on the range in northwestern New Mexico, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, announced today.

Photo of Jicarilla wild horses by David Cramer

The citizen opposition was submitted in response to the BLM’s request for comments on a Preliminary Environmental Assessment of its plan to roundup – via helicopter stampede and bait trapping – and remove 277-332 wild horses from the Jicarilla Joint Management Area (JMA), which lies in and around the Carson National Forest. The proposed action would leave just 73 wild horses behind on 169 square miles of public land.

The Jicarilla Joint Management Area is one of the few wild horse populations left on public lands in New Mexico. Over 75 percent of New Mexico’s Congressionally-designated wild horse and burro habitat has been eliminated – the original 126,530 acres has been reduced to just 28,613 acres.

“The Jicarilla wild horses are some of New Mexico’s few remaining mustangs, and this historic herd should be protected, not devastated by government helicopter stampedes,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director  “Thousands of citizens are demanding humane management that will allow the Jicarilla wild horses to live and die on the lands of their birth. It’s time for the government to listen to the American public.”

The thousands of public comments received by the BLM’s Farmington Field Office urge the agency to manage the Jicarilla wild horses with birth control to manage herd size without removing horses from the range. According to AWHPC, proper use of the PZP fertility control vaccine could attain zero population growth (births = deaths) in two years. In addition, the comments opposed the use of helicopters to roundup horses, urging the BLM to instead utilize bait trapping if capturing horses is necessary for application of birth control or for removing horses, if BLM proceeds with that plan.

The agency’s Proposed Action for the Jicarilla herd would add hundreds more horses into already full government-holding facilities. A recent investigative news article published by ProPublica indicates that the BLM has stockpiled so many horses that it has turned to a known kill buyer to dispense of them. Over 1,700 federally protected wild horses have been sold to this individual and likely were sent to Mexico for slaughter.

Among the reasons that the BLM cites for removing the Jicarilla horses is competition with privately-owned livestock and deer and elk populations that hunters want to kill for sport.

It’s time for the BLM to start managing our public lands or all citizens and not just the special interests that seek to have wild horses removed for their own personal or financial gain,” Roy concluded, noting that over the past several years, the BLM has received hundreds of thousands of public comments urging reform of the costly federal wild horse management program.

For Background

Over the last four years, the BLM has rounded up and removed over 37,000 wild horses from their homes on the range on Western public lands – more than doubling the number of mustangs in government-holding facilities. Only a third of these horses have been adopted. Currently, there are more wild horses in government holding facilities (50,000) than are left free on the range (32,000). Wild horses are removed by the thousands from public lands to make room for taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing. Private livestock exceed wild horses on BLM lands by at least 50-1.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.